Room to Recover

I wake today with painful awareness that I have holes scarring my abdomen where I did not have them previously. My very infected gallbladder was removed and I’m lying in a hospital bed hopped up on morphine with a drain in my side.

How did I get here?  

That could be a simple answer about organs quitting and being 44 or it could be a complex answer about my lack of self-awareness and gutting it out, again.

Shame and humility wash over me.  How was I this sick without knowing? My kids had a virus last week. We all had “stomach issues” and I believed that I simply had it worse than they did. I didn’t have space to listen to my body because we were leaving on a family vacation to the Dominican Republic that I have been planning for 9 months. I pressed on and on and on until my husband insisted that I go to the doctor. I never ran a fever. My white count was on the high side of normal. My body was disguising the severity of my crisis.

Could it be that my physical body is manifesting patterns that I have believed were only emotional?  I have had an awareness that I gut it out through emotional hardship, but here I am laid bare realizing that I have a physical reality representing a way of living that I’ve been desperate to change.

I cried bottled up tears in that hospital bed, including tears of gratitude for being saved from a medical emergency in a developing country. 

I am deeply grateful for the care that I received for my physical crisis, and I am left with the question, “Why can’t I ask for care before I need it so desperately?”  

I feel duped that my body held on through hardship and I did not know I was hanging on.

There was never room to be fully “down for the count” in my formative years. I can’t recall ever feeling invited to recuperate in full rest with no expectation.  I had to provide containment for myself and create a plan to be back at it again. I prepared for having babies like I was stockpiling for a hurricane. I purchased enough toilet paper for months. I had diapers and baby wipes for the year.

I have believed I am my only resource.  

I’ve been seeing a somatic therapist for several months now. She spoke kind words of honor for my body when I saw her this week. She honored that my body contained a very serious infection for years, actually. She honored that the containment broke open at a time where there is room for me to be cleaned out of infection and be nursed back to health. She had no judgment for me not knowing. She honored my body’s strength and weakness with awe.

A friend asked me how my family reacted when I flew to the Dominican three days post surgery. My reply was simple but telling. “They acted like it’s what any of us would do.” And it is what we have done.  

We tell stories of hardship as badges of honor.

Oh that? Having a back surgery and then back to work?  What else can you do? Having a baby and then helping with Christmas two days later? It’s what anyone would do.   

Where is the room to be human?

Here I am weeks later and I continue to need lots of space, rest, and care. This week I had to sit with my three teenage children and tell them that I’m not well yet.  I need them to show up, clean up, and cook for themselves for a while. They weren’t fazed in the least. They have been nurtured when they have needed it, they know it’s okay to need help.

This is my do-over.

I’m going to recover from this abandoned place with reverence.

I am worth fully resting until I have energy and life return to my body. I don’t want to wake up with more scars, so I will choose to honor the ones that I’m living with today.


Shandee is a wife to an amazing former banker, the mother of three teenagers, and kicks James Dobson’s butt when it comes to the sex talk. She loves to lay in the Oklahoma sun, bake cookies, and lean into the more of Jesus.